The emperor’s new portrait

obama in the ivy

When your entire public life has been blessed with the adulation of courtiers it can be very difficult not merely to determine how many of their hosannas are genuine but also the worth of what you imagine to be your own good taste.

Take Barack Obama, for example. The only editor of the Harvard Law Review never to have contributed a bylined essay to the publication, he was nevertheless hailed by admirers as a genius of jurisprudence. Make a dreadful mess of US policy and actions in the Middle East and those blunders are deemed to be of no accord. An ambassador is butchered in Libya and the grim facts of his murder are draped in layers of lies about an obscure YouTube clip allegedly prompting an entirely understandable reaction on the part of Islam’s faithful. No matter what Obama’s offence against competence, truth and US national interests, a claque of editorialists could be counted on to pound their keyboards in his defence.

Having for so long been bathed in the admiration of sycophants and the feting of toadies, Obama’s newly unveiled official portrait testifies to the perils of accepting flattery as fact. The picture, reproduced above, is perhaps the biggest advertisement for oddness since the New York Post profiled a nasty piece of work with the memorable front-page headline “Ghadafi Goes Daffy: Libyan leader is a transvestite druggie.”

What is the artist, Kehinde Wiley, trying to say? That Obama needs be regarded as a somewhat advanced form of vegetation? That he is the fairy at the bottom of the garden? That his most notable achievement was using White House antiques as outdoor furniture? Don’t laugh, all those options are possibilities from an artist whose earlier schtick was the depiction of black women brandishing the severed heads of white people.

Apparently Obama likes it, which tells you everything you need to know about the man and his judgement.

Powerline‘s Steven Hayward has some thoughts on the former president’s taste in art, plus quite a few alternative and amended images, some quite amusing. Follow this link or the one below and read on.

— roger franklin

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